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EXCHANGE SERVER - PROCESS OVERVIEW
The DynaSend email signature transport agent runs on Exchange Server 2010, 2013 and 2016 and does the following things (and nothing else):
- Identifies the sender's email address, locates the text string /e/signature/ in the email message, and replaces /e/signature/ with the correct full email signature for the sender.
- Optionally, and building on the action above, scans the list of recipients for any email address outside of the sender's "internal" domain, and when none are found replaces /e/signature/ with an abbreviated "internal" email signature for the sender.
- Appends a generic corporate email signature in the case that /e/signature/ is found but there is not a matching email signature on file for the sender of the message.
This is a low-feature, single-purpose, transport agent designed to solve your email signature problems quickly, easily, and inexpensively. If you're looking for campaign management, dashboards, analytics and tracking, a WYSIWYG template editor, groups and rules, and a thick user's manual, this is not for you. (We can, however, provide virtually all of the genuinely useful email signature capabilities, we just know the value of doing it without a lot of drama and complexity.)
ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND INFORMATION: The web-page you're looking at skips over the essential steps of creating the email signatures. Here's an overview of our design & HTML coding process, and here's an overview and live demonstration of our online management portal.
SYNCHRONIZATION BETWEEN OUR PORTAL AND YOUR EXCHANGE SERVER
Synchronization of email signatures between our portal and your Exchange Server occurs via a zip file download triggered by a URL that we supply you with (ARTTILE being the "client code" in this case):
The downloaded signatures are organized such that they will properly interface with our transport agent. The organizational structure is as follows:
The synchronization process is handled by our "download agent" software, which is bundled in the installer with our transport agent. One super-simple configuration utility governs the operation of the download agent and the transport agent.
TRANSPORT AGENT FOR MICROSOFT EXCHANGE 2010, 2013 AND 2016
Our "transport agent" software detects a "placeholder" signature - /e/signature/ - in the body of outgoing email messages (at the level of the Exchange Server), and then efficiently and intelligently applies the correct email signature based on both the sender and the recipients. The sender's email address is matched to the signatures on file (acquired during the synchronization process) and the correct email signature (HTML, RTF, or TXT depending on the message's format) is then substituted for the placeholder text. The following rules apply:
Email Message Sent to an Outside Domain: The full "external" email signature is always applied when /e/signature/ is encountered and ANY of the recipients have email addresses with external domains.
Email Message Sent to Internal Domain(s) Only: The limited "iinternal" email signature is always applied when /e/signature/ is encountered and NONE of the recipients have email addresses with external domains.
The "placeholder" email signature /e/signature/ is required by the transport agent in order to locate the correct placement and make the correct substitution.
Following illustrates what the signature setup might look like in Outlook:
The transport agent locates the placeholder signature in the body of the outgoing message and substitutes the correct email signature based on the sender's email address.
KEY FEATURE #1 - DISTINGUISHING BETWEEN INTERNAL & EXTERNAL RECIPIENTS
In most companies, the vast majority of email communication is between employees. When communication is between employees of the same company, much of the content of an email signature is not needed - logo, website and social media links, confidentiality statements, taglines, etc. By distinguishing between "internal" and "external" email messages we can ensure that the right email signature is applied at the right time.
KEY FEATURE #2 - LOW TECH (FOOLPROOF) DEPLOYMENT
Proprietary software that interfaces with Outlook 2003, 2007, 2010, 2011 (Mac), 2013, OWA, Mac Mail, iOS, Android, BlackBerry, etc. needs to run properly on every user's device, be continually maintained to remain compatible with operating system updates and email client version upgrades, and work around firewalls and other security restrictions. Simply put, there are far easier and more reliable approaches.
We simply suggest that you use a "group policy" to instigate and enforce the adherence to /e/signature/ as the default email signature for everyone. Or, you can simply ask users to set their default signature to /e/signature/ - that's easy too.
KEY FEATURE #3 - DATA MANAGEMENT WHERE IT BELONGS - WITH USERS (OR HUMAN RESOURCES)
If you fill out a data entry form for yourself - name, title, address, email, phone number, etc. - it's easy. If you're asked to fill it out for someone else - spouse, sibling, coworker - it's suddenly much harder. People know their own contact information! Asking them to type it in for the purposes of creating their email signature is not an excessive request - it's a smart one.
Virtually all other enterprise email signature services rely on Active Directory to populate the email signatures. Even if your Active Directory is perfectly maintained this approach often falls short. Why? Because a good email signature program is likely to request some user information that is not in AD:
- Personal LinkedIn URL
- Executive Management or Attorney "Bio" URL from the company website
- Professional Credentials
As soon as one data element is missing from AD, the efficiencies of synchronizing with Active Directory for signature data have largely evaporated - if you need manual input by the user for one thing, it's not much more to ask them to manually type in the other data elements. Furthermore, once you've become willing to think beyond Active Directory, many restrictions as to what can be contained in your email signature are lifted. Our goal in establishing our service was to never have to say no to any email signature content request, and to date we've managed to achieve this.
We do understand that some companies do not want to entrust the content of email signatures directly to employees (generally we hear concerns over people inaccurately stating their titles). In this case we'll generally recommend that the link to the email signature not be released to employees, and that the HR department manages the signatures via this two step approach:
- Provide us with a spreadsheet containing user data and we'll upload it to create the large initial batch of signatures for all employees (saving the vast majority of the data enty requirements).
- Manually edit these signatures as needed, and add new-hires manually as they come on board.
Keeping email signatures current and active is one of the largest hassles of any email signature program - our approach is efficient, intelligent, and keeps it simple!
KEY FEATURE #4 - FULL SERVICE CAMPAIGN MANAGEMENT
Over the years we've managed the email signature campaigns for many of our clients. We're in the best position to do so because we have written the email signature HTML, and thus know how to modify it. All that's required is for you to send us by email any kind of reasonable mock-up or other instructions as to what you want, and when, and we'll put it in place for you, let you preview it, and upon approval, update your signatures to reflect the new campaign.
KEY FEATURE #5 - LACK OF EXTRANEOUS / COMPLICATING FEATURES
Our "Experience-Based" Philosophy: As one of the orignial companies working in the area of email signatures (since 1999) we've seen technical changes, competitors come and go, but mostly we've seen how companies really use email signatures and the problems they often face in doing so.
The service we offer is as noteworthy for what it includes as for what it doesn't include
- Analytics Dashboard - Not included because email signatures are not expensive and they're intuitively important, thus their use does not need to be validated. Furthermore, they are not the equivelent of email marketing - they're just a useful, professional, introduction - there's nothing of any consequence to measure.
- WYSIWYG Signature Editor - Not included because the best editor is always worse than a highly skilled professional coder. Creating the editor is hard, and using it successfully is hard. Turning your project over to a full-time email signature professional is easy and smart.
- Campaign Scheduling - Not included because based on 16 years of practical experience it isn't important. At most our clients have three or four major trade show appearences throughtout the year that they want to announce in their email signatures. We'll take care of this for you on your schedule and with with zero hassle.
- Proprietary Software to Push Deployment Across Devices - Not included because it adds a huge degree of unnecessary complexity and massively increases the potential support burden. Your IT staff can push the deployment through the use of a Group Policy (and lock the signature down), or users can follow simple instructions to locate their email signature dialog and then type in /e/signature/ and click save. Low-tech makes sense at times.
- Active Directory Sync - Not included because AD isn't always kept current, complete, and accurate. Given an easily accessible data management tool, like our online portal, users (or your HR department) are actually great at getting (and keeping) the information in their signature correct.
If you want want one or more more of these features, there are other good email signature software options on the market.
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